Hospice Provides Hope, Help for Terminally Ill

Program Nurse Manager Ann Aksamit says the center serves three to nine patients a day. (Photo by Pat Blair)

Sheridan Memorial Hospital's Hospice of the Big Horns provided hope and health for 55 local patients and their families last year.

Program Nurse Manager Ann Aksamit says the center serves three to nine patients a day, of all ages, from infants to senior citizens, and there is no waiting list.

The program director said some people perceive that hospice means the patient and family are giving up. But she says that is not true.

She said hospice care improves the patient's quality of life, and some patients have lived well beyond what their physicians expected.

She talked about the benefits and services that hospice can provide for the patient and family.

The program manager said hospice care is growing across the nation as more and more people choose to spend their final days someplace other than in a hospital. Recent studies have found that 98 percent of terminally ill people want to die in their own homes.

One hundred percent of hospice care in Sheridan County is in the patient's home. Nationwide, 95 percent of those in a hospice program stay in their own homes, while others may be in nursing homes or a designated hospice residence.

But in-home hospice care requires that family members be available to stay with the patient. The local hospice program currently cannot accept people who don't have family to stay with them.

The Sheridan program manager said a hospice residence may be in the future here, but plans are still in the discussion stage. A hospice residence could accommodate people who do not have families.